Tuesday, June 16, 2020

teach what you know

Psalm 34:11-14
We cannot teach what we do not possess ourselves. I have nothing to give another that I do not hold in my own hands. That is beautifully demonstrated in this Psalm. It is not until after the Psalmist has tasted and seen for himself that the Lord is good, that he can then turn and invite his children in the faith to come and be taught what he has learned.
"Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD, " verse eleven beacons.
How can he teach the fear of the Lord? He has experienced it for himself. The psalmist came to this moment with his own fears (see verse 4) but he sought the Lord and gained the right perspective, God's perspective. He was thus delivered from his own fears, literally meaning his own haunting apprehensions that he held deep within himself. He was freed of the torture of those haunting apprehensions because he had sought the LORD in them and gained the freeing perspective of the greatness of his God in the face of those fears.
Then, several verses later, the psalmist recognizes the protection he receives when he his fears are rightly placed. He now fears the One who is far e
xceeding his own hauntings. This new fear is a fear that in its original wording, acknowledges God's good intentions and is produced by the Word and Spirit of the Lord. This is a fear of astonishment and awe, as we would fear a lion, in it's stunning beauty and magnificent strength.
Now with a grasp on that awe and goodness of God that far exceeds that which once held him by the neck in fear, the psalmist can call out to others and teach them this rightly placed fear.
As he begins to teach, he opens with the rhetorical question: "what man is there that desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?" Well, who doesn't desire life, many days and goodness?
He then proceeds to give the practical how-to steps, which blesses my practical side.
"Keep your tongue from evil 
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil 
and do good; 
seek peace 
and pursue it."
But how in the world can this sinner put a guard over the doorway of my mouth, remain attentive to the path I am walking, do what is good and chase after peace? The answer is in the lesson the psalmist is teaching, fear the Lord. When I walk in the fear of the Lord, keeping Him in right perspective in my heart and yield to His leading then the words I speak, the things I do and what I chase after reflect that perspective.
Have you tasted and seen the Lord is good? Have you allowed Him to rightly teach you Who to fear over what you fear? Do you desire life and goodness in many days? Then begin with the fear of the Lord and then turn to teach those around you its life-giving ways. In teaching you will further learn and in learning you can further teach.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

taste and see

Psalm 34:8-10
I was an atheist when a fellow teacher at the daycare put a Bible in my hands and challenged me to read it. I was holding tightly to me claims, yet was intrigued by this friend. I accepted her challenge mostly figuring that it would give me the ammo I needed to prove to my church-raised husband why it was ridiculous to believe in the God he claimed.
David extends the invitation in Psalm 34:8 to anyone willing to listen that if they, too, would taste for themselves and see for themselves that God is good, they too would be blessed as they take refuge in Him. David knew, what we know, that there are fears all around us willing to consume our minds and hearts at any moment. David stood before the king of Gath who was ready to strike him dead in an instant. Yet in retrospect, David recognized where his fears were to be rightly placed.
"Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!" verse 9 reminds us.
I grew up fearful of my own shadow. Having been abandoned by my birth father before I have any conscious memory of him, left me on shaky ground emotionally. Then walking through a second parental divorce with my mom as the man I knew as "Dad" moved out, leaving my fears to mound up within me. Packing up and moving to a state I had never been to with my mom, my brother and this new step dad who clearly rather golf than parent, only served to confirm nothing in life is stable.
Fears attacked me easily, sometimes in broad daylight. Fear of abandonment, insecurities, loneliness nearly strangled me. So I grew into a young woman building a good solid wall of sarcasm and snarky comments to keep from exposing my heart to anyone. In reality I feared everything and everyone but God.
The Psalmist invites us to know Him, experience Him and we will see that He is good and a refuge and He is all we need to fear.
When the Lord opened my eyes, as I read through that Bible, to my recognition of my own sinfulness and my need for a Savior, I was floored. He was the One who could cast this sinful soul into hell. He was also the One who foresaw me, the deepest places of me, the sinfulness within me and yet willingly went to the cross to nail my sin there bearing the full weight of it on Himself. This sacrifice for me. How could I not fear Him? Revere and stand in awe of Him? Like the great lion Aslan portrays in the Narnia series, this great Lion of the tribe of Judah is to be greatly feared, for His is good an He is a refuge for those who fear Him.
Have you tasted and seen His goodness for yourself? Where do you run for refuge? A friend, a drink, a phone? Or to the One who blesses those who take refuge in Him?

Tuesday, June 2, 2020


Psalm 34:4-7
My husband was laid off during the recession in 2009 for eighteen months. Over a year and a half without work for the bread winner in our family. I was homeschooling our two young boys and had no form of income. We had no idea what to do.
So we sought the Lord.
Just as David seeks the Lord when he faced his great fear of the king of Gath in 1 Samuel 21. david explains his response to this soul shaking fear in Psalm 34:4. "I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears."
In the instance of which David writes, God did physically deliver him from the fear of being killed by the king when David acted insane. But you don't have to walk with the Lord long to know that sometimes He delivers us from fears while we still live in the fear inducing situation. That's what happened for my family.
We sought the Lord in the job loss. We begged Him for a job for my husband. And in that, we came face to face with the realization that He is our provision, not my husband, not his employer, not the government. God alone. Certainly He uses those things at time to provide, but they aren't necessary for Him.
In this verse, the psalmist is delivered from his fears, but in our season of that trial, we were delivered in our fear. And along with the psalmist we knew the following verses were a reality.
"Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them."
We were delivered from the job loss, as the Lord did provide my husband a new job, with actually far less stress for that new season. But in the midst of the trial, we had no idea how long it would be or how in the world the provisions would come. God provided through people leaving groceries on our doorstep right when we needed them. He heard our cries as we prayed and told no one our need and yet, our electric bill was paid in full by an anonymous friend. He saved us out of the financial trouble we found ourselves in as dear friends provided my husband with side jobs to make ends meet. My parents gave us their second car and we began to say to one another, "we have need of ___ , I wonder how God will provide."
The angel of the Lord certainly encamped around us as we were able to remain in our home, pay bills and have the food to feed our kids.
At the end of the eighteen months, it was miraculous how the Lord provided my husband with a job and miraculously brought us from that season in less debit and in far greater intimacy with Him that we had ever had.
What fears are circling around you in this season? Job loss, health issues, children's future schooling are all very real fears and concerns right now. Are we seeking our own provision, ability, solution? Or are we seeking the Lord and expecting Him to answer us? Are we looking to the government? Or are we looking to the One who causes us to radiate Him?

Friday, May 29, 2020

five minute friday: born

Fresh starts and new beginnings flood the air as spring begins to turn into summer. Hope permeates places that have been in desperate need of it, even places within me.
The newborn ducklings waddling across the street as I am forced to wait for their passing. The weight of newly picked tomatoes, jalapeƱos and onions from the garden fill my basket. Early morning light streams through the windows brighter now as spring takes its full affect.
Birth is the place where hope shows it's finest colors. Every spring the earth is freshly born from it's winter death. A new birth of blooming flowers, budding fruits and baby birds returns after the harshness of frost. 
The newness gives hope even to my own weary soul after these months of shelter at home, as a seed buried underground all winter starting to emerge. Slowly but surely, I can feel the hopefulness of the months ahead returning. Tentative plans, possible outings and the prospect of a visit provide a twinkle of the hope of what's to come. 
My own soul needs the hope that new beginnings provide, even as I take up the mantle of "writer" once again, under the Lord's direction. Not knowing where the birth of a journey will lead, yet the first tentative steps in the right direction give glimpses of adventure ahead. Just start small.
Every birth began small, microscopic even. A fusing together of a hope with a dream that was planted deep within. In the fullness of time it comes forth. 
Whether in the hope of what's ahead this summer as the world emerges into it's new normal. Whether it is the seed of a dream within your own heart. What is the inkling within you that is beginning to come forth? How might you offer the expectation of that birth into the hands of the Lord and follow His lead? He is the Master of new birth.

"In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
1 Peter 1:3

Thursday, May 28, 2020

late night

What is it about the deep hours of the night that cause an introspection so dramatic it often beckons the exhausted to rise?
My eyes pop open. 3am. Hmm, must be the tacos I ate for dinner or that late night glass of wine. In an attempt to ignore it, I roll over only then to come face to face with my mind's closet.
What shall we ponder tonight?
How about pulling out the twins of Guilt and Grief that hide in the shadows of my heart until those moments when the darkness within matches the darkness around me and all I have to distract me is the racing colors of my mind? Seems like the best option tonight.
Guilt, every place I failed as a mother, I have twenty years of fodder to offer for that one. It compels me to text an apology to my son that is such a small nonsense yet my heart wants to say, sorry for every failure and place where I was impatient and inconsistent in my parenting. For the last 20 years. Sorry for being a sinner, sweet son of mine. 
Grief, the passing of my dear Dad, a loss I can't even yet seem to get my mind around, even after 18 months. When will the memories, all intermingling good with the hard and the pain, stop pounding on my heart like a hammer. At times it slows and nearly stills but in the dark hours it rises at times to a deafening toll. Trying hard to remember his voice, the feeling of his hand or the last time I hugged him hard before leaving to return home thinking we had more time. Trying to capture in my mind as clearly as possible those sweet memories of conversations, mannerisms and habits. Pushing aside the painful moments I was cross or impatient, or even that last good-bye laced with hope.
Anxiety and Fear would join the group soon if I didn't do something fast. So on this night, like I do far too few times, I wrestled with my torn thoughts and saddening images and began to repeat the healing words I know well.
"Trust in the LORD with all your and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your steps." (Proverbs 3:4-6)
The familiar proverb rolled off my heart with ease as they found their worn tracks in my heart. With every repetition of the verses, the words grew with intensity and began to push away the Guilt and Grief that had begun to settle into their grooves for the night. Before long sleep clouded my thinking and my mind relaxed with the rest of my body.
What is your mantra, of sorts, to meditate on, somewhere to draw your mind back to when it is being bullied by the deep hours of the dark? For me it works best to not be the same as my memory verse but rather an old verse that is more like a familiar blanket to wrap around my mind with ease. It is life to me in the darkness.